EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — The annual West Side Nut Club Fall Festival in Evansville has been canceled for the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But within the past week there’s been a movement on social media to help the groups who depend on the Festival Festival raise money and sell food, not along Franklin Sreet but from a distance.

Eyewitness News had a chance to speak with one of the group’s creators and a church that is busy taking orders for their sweet treats.

“Best candy we’ve ever had,” said St. Matthews Church Fall Festival candy coordinator Georgia Hitch.

Right now the kitchen at St. Matthews Church sits empty, but in a few weeks, it will be full of volunteers hard at work.

“Absolutely crazy,” said Hitch. ” it’s hilarious and we have so much fun”

Over the years, the church has earned a reputation for selling delicious chocolate, vanilla, and peanut butter fudge. Also a big hit, divinity, winning best of the fest in 2016. Georgia Hitch who has been the candy coordinator for the church for 15 years has been dipping divinity at St. Matthews since she was a kid.

“A fluffy bunch of heaven,” said Hitch. “it’s just a real creamy, sweet, not hard but it’s harder than a marshmallow.”

The church relies on sales from the Fall Festival to supply its food pantry and Christmas program.
But this year had other plans with the cancellation of the festival. So St. Matthews took to Gacebook to keep sales alive.

“So we’re taking pre-orders,” said Hitch. “Up until September 5th. That way it helps us to know how much supplies to buy.”

The church also plans to use its booth during Fall Festival week to sell fudge and divinity out of its parking lot.

“I love the fall festival so much,” said Fall Festival 2020 Facebook group co-creator Elaine Lively. “And I love, it’s crazy but I love the crowd”

That St. Matthews post caught the eye of Elaine Lively and her friend Sarah.

“Among all the people and I love to come down here on Saturdays and spend all day on Saturdays and people watch,” said Lively.

Lively also loves the food.

“Hash brown sandwich from the West Side Improvement Association and the sausage from the Chuck Wagon,” said Lively.

It’s that love that inspired Lively to help create the Facebook group Fall Festival 2020, a forum to share St. Matthews plan for pre-orders along with other organizations.

“With everybody being scattered all over town it was nice to have it all in one place,” said Lively. “And then that’s how the spreadsheet came about is just to keep everything straight as to who was going to be where and when.”

She also created a socially distanced munchie map.

“And you can click on the map and the booth then will come up and show what their items are,” said Lively.

In existence just over a week, the group boasts over nine thousand members.

“It shows how tight Evansville is,” said Lively. “Like everybody wants to help everybody.”

As the group grows, and word spreads, St. Matthews and other organizations are preparing to cook.

“It’s all a blessing. i think it’s still going to help others,” said Hitch.

“And if we’re able to help through our stomachs, then that’s awesome,” said Lively.

St. Matthews has received over 60 pre-orders so far. Each order is a 5 dollar minimum.
The Fall Festival Facebook group is not associated with the West Side Nut Club, it’s an independent effort.

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(This story was originally published on Aug. 28, 2020)